MINERS guard Ash Constable's breakout season with Ballarat has been rewarded a development contract with National Basketball League club Cairns Taipans.
Constable becomes the third Ballarat Miner recruited to the Snake Pit. He follows teammate Nathan Sobey, who was promoted to the full-time roster via a training position late last month, and former captain Shaun Bruce, who is set for his third NBL season.
Constable spent eight days early last month living and training as a Taipan and impressed in a chance on the floor in a pre-season hit-out against Melbourne United, incidentally having also trained with United for its week-long camp in Ballarat in August.
For Constable, this is an important step to fine-tune his game and return to the Minerdome a sharper player.
"I've just played my second SEABL (South East Australian Basketball League) and I've improved each year. This season coming I want to improve again," Constable said.
"Being able to train with an NBL club in the off-season will help me a lot in playing a more important role in the (Miners).
"I want to take my basketball to the next level. This opportunity helps get that next position."
The Taipans have signed Constable as a development squad member, which means he could - if the club nominates this season - have the chance to suit up for home games or could be promoted in such a role for an injured player.
Fellow Miners guard Anthony Fisher joined Perth Wildcats in August in a similar role.
Taipans coach Aaron Fearne said Constable, like Bruce, comes at the recommendation of former Miners coach Guy Molloy, who also coached Constable in the 2010 FIBA world under-17 championships in Germany.
"I want a good player but I also want a good person in that role and Ash ticked those boxes," Fearne said.
"He was willing to make the move up here and live in northern Queensland...How could I say no?"
Constable was a promising junior basketballer, representing Australia and winning national medals with Vic Country.
A chance to try his game as a footballer on North Ballarat Rebels' TAC Cup under-18 list gave Constable a taste of increased training intensity, physical testing and professionalism that he said helped prepare him for elite basketball.
Constable has no regrets for taking time off the floor to step out on the footy field - he just found he missed basketball too much.
On the Miners roster, Constable has worked hard to earn more minutes from coach David Flint.
This led to that invaluable week working with NBL club Melbourne United.
"Just experiencing the professionalism of both teams (United and Taipans) has been great, to see how they train and obviously the extra quickness in their games," Constable said.
"Going into Cairns training after that week with Melbourne gave me the heads up in what it would be like and I went in with a lot more confidence.
"I knew (Cairns) was looking at work ethic, so that week I worked as hard as I could."
Constable can hardly wait to battle alongside Bruce and Sobey in the Pit as friends and as great examples of where hard work and seizing opportunities could take you.
The Taipans launch their NBL campaign in Adelaide on Friday night.
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